Beats, Brews, and Bills: Lend Support to Colorado’s Wilderness

Upslope Brewery, Conservation Colorado, and the Tyler Grant Trio will be teaming up this Wednesday, November 18th, to drum up support for the Continental Divide Wilderness and Recreation Act, sponsored by Representative Jared Polis, of Colorado’s 2nd District. With the bill gaining momentum in Congress and throughout Colorado as an opportunity to preserve some of the state’s natural attributes as Wilderness Areas, local musicians are helping to raise awareness for this important piece of legislation as well.

Set to designate an additional 40,000 acres in Colorado’s national forests as Wilderness Areas, the bill is getting support from both sides of the political spectrum, as it has found wide acceptance among town officials, business owners, and conservationists alike. Congressman Polis’ plan affects both Summit and Eagle Counties, as the the bill seeks to designate forest land within the Williams Fork Mountains, Tenmile Range, and Hoosier Ridge along with expanding areas within the Holy Cross, Eagle’s Nest, and Ptarmigan Ridge Wilderness areas as well. National Forest Areas fall within federal jurisdiction, and the further distinction of a Wilderness Area can only be designated via Congress. Wilderness Areas differ from National Forest land in that they are not subject to any type of development, whereas land that falls outside of that designation can still be used to expand motorized roads and trails, mining, or logging. The bill also sets aside an additional 18,000 acres of special management areas within Summit County, known as the Tenmile Recreation Management Area and the Porcupine Gulch Protection Area. The Tenmile area would put an emphasis on recreation, and preserve the area for recreational outlets, such as mountain biking, hiking, and other outdoor pursuits, while the Porcupine Gulch area would place more of a priority on wildlife protection. Both areas would be managed to allow for various forms of outdoor endeavors, and protect the land from things like mining and private development.

Conservation Colorado, which campaigns for preservation within the state, has been teaming up with other advocacy groups to spread awareness of the bill in hopes that it will spur further action at the federal level, and increase support for Rep. Polis’ legislation as it moves through Congress.  Specifically, the push to promote the legislation has been a coalition effort that has heightened public awareness, and organized hikes of the area for members of the community. The Wilderness Society, IMBA, and Vet Voice Foundation have all worked as proponents for both the preservation and recreation goals found within the legislation, along with advocacy group Rock the Earth, which is heavily founded in the music industry, to mobilize Colorado based musicians for the cause. Rock the Earth’s Executive Director, Marc Ross, explained that the organization is created by, for, and consists of environmental advocates within the music industry. “Not only do we advocate for particular issues brought to us by artists,” he said, “But we also conduct environmental education and citizen activation at over 200 concerts throughout the US each year.”

While the Tyler Grant Trio will be leading the charge at Wednesday’s event, other Colorado based musicians are speaking out in favor of preserving areas of the state for future Coloradans. Bridget Law, of Elephant Revival, has been active with the campaign to promote Congressman Polis’ bill, and spoke of the importance of keeping much of Colorado’s natural areas preserved. “Getting outside is so important to keeping happy and healthy, and helping to protect some of these areas instigates even more of a want to experience it,” she said.

This same attitude is one that Conservation Colorado is hoping that attendees to Wednesday evening’s event will take on, as it could increase a trend being seen in Congress that seems to be playing out in favor of conservation and recreation. The event will run from 5-7 p.m., and is a great opportunity to get involved. Similarly, proponents for the bill suggest voicing support to Representative Polis’ office by phone or mail, or contacting other Colorado congressman to push for similar legislation.

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